IRL press conference on 2012 new chassis, part 4

Continued from part 3 HOKE: We've got three down here in front. Q: Guys, the DeltaWing concept created a lot of attention both with fans and the media and things like that. Can you maybe talk about why the DeltaWing concept was not chosen...

Continued from part 3

HOKE: We've got three down here in front.

Q: Guys, the DeltaWing concept created a lot of attention both with fans and the media and things like that. Can you maybe talk about why the DeltaWing concept was not chosen and what affect a radical car like that had on your thought process?

PURNELL: I'm happy to take that. The DeltaWing was a radical car. When you step out, you're that brave, you take risks. A car like that's never been done before. From the series standpoint we had to think very carefully on many factors, safety was certainly one, and the fact that the whole series depended on us making a choice that would race no question in 2012.

So we came to the conclusion that stepping back again, as I said before, as a holistic decision, Dallara offered us the best bet. But really, I think that none of the proposals quite match what we wanted to achieve, and it was this committee that formed the final direction for the whole series.

Q: This is really for anybody who wants to address it. Were you able to have any conversations or discussions about as we go down the road, two, three, four years in the future, would we get to a position where we could go to multiple manufacturers and how would we transition to that if that were to be the case? Obviously that's beyond your purview, but was there a decision, is there a way to get toward that end ultimately?

DE FERRAN: I can take that. There were certainly a lot of discussion on that front, Gordon, because we were looking at this decision not only from a very short-term perspective, and frankly 12 and 13 is short-term but essentially laying the groundwork for a long-term future of the series. And I think one of the beauties about this concept is that the framework is there for you to continue to free it up if the, shall we say, if the environment allows you to do so. So, frankly, we had many discussions along those lines.

I think going back to a previous question, and also in connection with what you just asked, it is important to emphasize at the end of the day we ended up not just choosing a car but creating a new concept and a new approach to solve what on the face of it are very conflicting requirements.

Q: Brian, you mentioned beefing up the IndyCar staff in terms of the technical side or at least you alluded to that because it's going to take a big effort to make sure these parts are approved. Can you give us any details about that yet?

BARNHART: No, no real details on it, Curt. I think it's just, it's kind of common sense to look at the direction we're going. Again, same thing, you don't need as much when you've been where we've been when you're opening it up for the competition and the levels we're expecting, I think we're going to have to increase our staff and knowledge base considerably to meet the demands and expectations of the participants.

Q: I guess this is for Brian, again. When Go Fast Engineering wants to design an aero kit for the car, I'm assuming that you're limiting the price that they can charge for that aero kit; is that correct?

BARNHART: Yes, that will be the $70,000 price cap.

Q: So the third parties would still have to stay within the price cap?

BARNHART: Correct.

Q: What defines an aero kit, by the way?

BARNHART: The aero kit we're talking about will include the front wings, not the nose, but it will include the front wings, both side pods, the engine cover and the rear wings.

Q: J.R. Hildebrand. I just have a couple questions sort of from a technical standpoint. In regards to the aero kits, does one aero kit include or is it universal for road courses and ovals? Or are those separate within an aero kit?

BARNHART: It will include everything to run all the diverse tracks on the schedule. So a kit will include the wing flaps to adjust to run road and streets versus super speedway, as well.

Q: So you could feasibly run two different companies' kits total, road course and oval?

BARNHART: Correct, yes.

Q: With regards to just the base chassis from Dallara, the way the current car is set up, suspension, shocks, a lot of that kind of stuff is changeable, teams can make their own stuff. Is that going to carry over or is it going to be from a suspension standpoint, stay just as it is, is that going to be specific from Dallara?

BARNHART: Teams will not be allowed to build their own suspensions in the future. It will be part of the safety cell and provided with the rolling chassis and that will not be a component that will be allowed to be altered.

Q: 2012 is not really that far off. With Dallara not only building the new car but building the new factory, how difficult is that going to be? What is the time frame to actually get down and start testing this design?

BARNHART: If I remember right, I think based on the timelines, and we've looked at so many of them, but I think they're talking about the first Safety Cell rolling chassis with their kit coming off the line, I believe, in October of 2011 and delivery production line for the orders beginning in December of 2011.

Q: With a $70,000 price tag on the aero kit, it probably won't make sense for small companies to invest in what they would need to invest to make what they hope would be a faster aero kit. Have you deliberately positioned the aero kit to attract a General Motors or an Audi or a major manufacturer to invest in the car knowing that what they sell it for actually won't recoup what their investment is? Was that a deliberate positioning of this rule?

PURNELL: Not at all. Consider that somebody does produce a winning package, they're going to be in the market for attracting major sponsorship for the next effort. First of all, if you sell lots of kits, you know, $70,000 magnifies up pretty quickly to a substantial sum. If you generate that you're the leader of the pack, you're going to get big names, big multinational companies to want to partner with you in producing their body kits.

So there's a commercial model that works there.

Q: Just a last question. Will this car also potentially be an Indy Lights car?

BARNHART: That's certainly something we're still considering. At least the Safety Cell portion of it might be used. That was one of the interesting aspects of some of the conversations. That's not a new topic. We talked about doing that since the advent of the Lights series in 2002. Previously it's been cost-prohibitive to do so. But with the direction we're heading now, it's certainly something we'll consider in the future.

Q: Gil, you were involved in the development in Formula One, how did this procedure compare to how they went ahead in developing a Formula One car?

DE FERRAN: Well, I would say the same, my experience at least this process, has been completely unique. As Randy alluded in his initial remarks, you know, we were certainly not without disagreement, and there were some very heated and frank exchanges during our conference calls and during our meetings. But in the end of the day I think this was democracy at work, shall we say, and working well.

Eventually we started to come up with new ideas, new solutions, innovative solutions and our meetings became more like brainstorming sessions and highly productive.

So I personally have never been involved in a process like this with such a diverse group coming up with I consider to be a unique solution to a complex problem.

Q: Two quick ones. Brian, knowing that the Dallara itself should be on track late 2011 in order for other interested manufacturers, kit manufacturers to get involved, they'd obviously need to have drawings earlier than that. When will those be made available? And is that going to be kind of a bit of an open source where anybody who wants to can gain access?

BARNHART: Absolutely. It's going to be important from a time standpoint and some of that is a fluid situation right now because we don't even know when the first race of 2012 will be and we'll back that up to a couple of open tests to make sure everybody has a chance to see the potential kits that are out there as well as back that up in terms of enough time for people to submit their designs, get them approved and then manufacture them. Because there will be minimum supply requirements on them again, the equal accessibility of equipment, we want to make sure not one kit comes out and only one team has access to it. So a little bit of that is kind of fluid, as I say, because we don't know the dates and can't put the stake in the ground yet but that's how we're going to back it up.

Q: Randy, are you concerned if you don't have a number of kit manufacturers step up by not choosing multiple chassis from the outset, we could see another 2012 filled with Dallaras, nothing but Dallaras?

BERNARD: I think we have to be realistic and not set our expectations too high. Our goal was to be looking at the long-term. We knew that engine manufacturers and chassis manufacturers were under deadlines right now, you know, to get moving. So we think it's going to be pretty darn hard to see engine manufacturers by 2012, we're optimistic yet, and there's a due date not too far down the road.

But our goal is to have some interest, farther than interest, we have some automotive and chassis manufacturers -- I'm sorry, the aero kit manufacturers in 2013 for sure.

Q: Anyone who wants to take it. Is there a specific length of time with this contract, Randy, with Dallara, five years, three years, two?

BERNARD: It runs through 2015.

Q: 2015. So I think a lot of fans wanted to see three cars rolled out and I know you guys talked about wanting to have multiple chassis. Is the DeltaWing dead in your mind, or is there a chance by 2013 or 2014 something could happen and it could open up? I think you all said the same thing, Ben was really the guy that was the impetus for this thing to change.

BERNARD: Personally, you know, the DeltaWing project was, like what Tony said, a radical concept. That's a question that you really need to ask Ben what the next step is going to be with it.

With us, we're focused right now on our next concept, and we believe that we've made the right decision and we're excited about it.

HOKE: One more up here in the front.

Q: Randy or Brian, first question, you have a whole fleet of IndyCars right now that will no longer be usable in 2012. What's the plan for those right now? Could that be an Indy Lights series kind of thing or what do you have in mind for those chasses now?

BARNHART: I don't think they'll be the Indy Lights cars for the 2012 or 2013. I think this is a cost-prohibitive car. The fact it was an 8-year- old car that was designed to run on ovals only and converted to run on the road and street circuits that are currently on the schedule, has created a situation where we have excess parts inventory. The new car will be designed to be a road course car that will be capable of doing ovals, that will reduce the parts required or reduce the inventory. I think this would be a cost-prohibitive car. Then you get into the aero aspects of it. If you put a reduced horsepower engine, the tires are the wrong size for it, the L over D is the wrong formula as well. So it will not move in that direction.

The fact we'll get to 2012, at this point the car will have raced nine years, and I think it will be time to become show cars.

Q: One more. I'm interested in the short timetable you have here with 2012. You talked about not having the schedule set for that season, obviously that's not done yet. Does that mean you could potentially move back the start of the season a month or two to allow for this chassis production and the aero package to be complete or is there a chance that you may start that season with this same chassis and move --

BARNHART: No, we won't grandfather this chassis in. The fact that we're about 18 months out from 2012 and technically probably closer to 20 months before the first race event of 2012, we're well within the windows and capabilities of the manufacturers.

HOKE: Anybody else? Then we'll break it off for one-on-ones here.

Q: This is probably for Brian. The other major component cost is the gearbox. What is your plan going ahead with the gearbox, will it be a spec gearbox and if so, will it be lighter and less bulky than the current one?

BARNHART: The gearbox will be part of the Safety Cell, the rolling chassis delivered by Dallara. Keep in mind the prices that we talked about, the 349(,000) and 385(,000), those are all-inclusive. Those are complete as opposed to where we're at now. One of the challenges with our current cars, when you buy from Dallara, then you've got to go buy the fuel cell, then you've got to go buy the wiring system, you've got to go buy all the electronics. You've got to get the headers, driveshafts and all that stuff. This will be basically the complete car, less seat, is the easiest way. The transmission will be part of that and that will be an aspect that Dallara will work with the potential suppliers of transmission for them.

HOKE: I lied, sit tight. One more.

Q: Does IndyCar have a performance goal in mind yet of the new car, either quantitative or qualitative in terms of how it produces its downforce, maybe even compared to the current car?

DE FERRAN: Well, we had a lot of discussion with regards to performance, and also maybe that addresses one of the questions that was asked earlier. And performance discussions were not only limited to lap time, you know.

Certainly one of the goals that we had for a lot of the ovals and super speedways is to stay at least at today's level but with safety improvements permitting, hopefully go higher. And certainly go a fair chunk higher in the road and street courses to make the car more challenging to the drivers.

But, also, another important aspect of performance was raceability. So as part of this concept, you know, creating forms and shapes and a type of car that are able to follow each other closely and produce close racing and good overtaking, very much part of the criteria behind the design of the new car.

HOKE: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate it. We're going to break off for one-on-ones. Guys, thank you, the committee members as well.

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers J.R. Hildebrand
Teams HART